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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8337


Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (15:21): Senator Penny Wong has provided a huge number of responses—I cannot recall how many—to questions on this issue, whether it be in the numerous question times we have had on this issue or in the time in committee recently on the package of clean energy bills. As ongoing as this has become, it is clear that every time the opposition do not hear the answer they want to hear—that is, an answer that fits into their negative agenda on climate change—they choose to pretend that it is just not the right answer, that it is not an answer that equates with or fits their agenda. This is the farcical situation we find ourselves in.

Senator Wong, the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, has provided detailed answers that are evidence based. She has referred, for example, to Professor Will Steffen, one of the climate commissioners who have provided a lot of detail on the science and why we are acting on this issue. The director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, he is peer reviewed and highly respected in the science community and has provided a lot of detail to the government and the multi-party committee that has brought us to the position of having the clean energy package before us. I met with him on 15 December here in Parliament House about the Holocene, which we live in, and the one trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide that is of human origin in the atmosphere today—the one trillion tonnes that Australia is going to play its part in ensuring we do not continue to produce.

Why are we doing that? Why are we here today debating the fact that we need to act on climate change? We are not necessarily doing it for ourselves. We are doing it for our children, for the next generation. We are doing it to ensure that we leave this planet with a much better make-up than it currently has and to ensure that the next generation live in a climate that is not going to be volatile and to the detriment of their lives and the environment in which they live.

The opposition can continue to ask the questions to which they do not get the answers which suit them: the negative answers they are looking for so that they can go out and bag something that is really good. And this is really good; it is not only providing a lot of support to transition ourselves to a clean energy future with a clean energy economy but also providing tax relief to Australians. Of course they do not want to go into that part of it and have to say, when and if they repeal it, whether they would repeal the tax-free threshold of $18,000 that has been offered to Australians. We know their backflip position now on superannuation.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator SINGH: We know that you will repeal the MRRT, but of course you want to keep the superannuation increase and you somehow have to come up with $12.6 billion to fund it. I do not know how you are going to do that, adding to the $70 billion black hole you have already created. So there are all these things you are going to have to fund that are unfunded. Australians are being left in complete doubt as to how, if you were in government, you would deliver the superannuation increase and how you would deliver a rise in the tax-free threshold to $18,000 now that you are saying you will commit to the superannuation increase but will repeal the minerals resource rent tax.

We have an opposition here who continued to oppose everything, to run scare campaigns, to backflip on policy, and to come into this place and try to pinpoint Senator Penny Wong for answering numerous questions on climate change. And all the while we know that there are those in the opposition who do not even believe in climate change and those who have backflipped so many times like Senator Cormann, who thought in 2007 that it was a positive and sensible approach to have an emissions trading scheme and yet today has backflipped on that principled position. (Time expired)